Max Verstappen faces homecoming party delay if he beats Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi finale

F1 preview: Abu Dhabi run-through as Verstappen and Hamilton go head-to-head

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Max Verstappen will reportedly delay his homecoming after a long season, even if he pips rival Lewis Hamilton to the world title in Abu Dhabi this Sunday. Ever the competitor, the Dutchman will instead stay behind for a test the following Tuesday with one eye on the 2022 season. 

Verstappen’s advantage over the past few weeks was finally wiped out by Hamilton in Saudi Arabia. 

After a race packed with controversy, including two separate collisions between the pair, the Brit eventually saw the chequered flag first to draw level with one race remaining. 

Valtteri Bottas’ spectacular podium may have all but secured the Constructors’ title for Mercedes, but Drivers’ honours are still firmly in the balance. 

While Hamilton has the momentum and experience to secure his eighth world title on Sunday, Verstappen undoubtedly has the hunger, on top of a slight advantage in terms of race wins for the season, which could prove crucial. 

DON’T MISS: Will Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen win the world title? – VOTE NOW

But after what has been a gruelling contest between the contenders all year, Verstappen will reportedly delay his homecoming celebrations whether he secures the title or not. 

According to De Telegraaf, the Dutchman plans to stay in Abu Dhabi to take part in a test on Tuesday. 

Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon are also among those to stay on after the season finale, with an eye on optimising a much-changed car ahead of the new season. 

Such a decision seems representative of Verstappen’s long-term ambitions, as before he has even secured his first title, he is already looking ahead to 2022. 

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The 24-year-old is already regarded by many as the best driver in the sport, and with Hamilton’s retirement not expected to be too far away, he could enjoy plenty more years at the top.

But beating the Brit while he is still active will undoubtedly be hugely important to Verstappen, particularly after such an intense battle this year. 

While the Red Bull man already has plans for the days following Sunday’s season finale, he has also outlined his immediate post-race intentions should Hamilton clinch a record-breaking eighth crown. 

After exiting the podium celebrations early last time out, Verstappen plans to pay his respects to Hamilton once the season concludes – on one condition. 

According to, Verstappen’s pledge to congratulate the Mercedes man in the case of a Hamilton victory rests on a fair race. 

Stewards have been tasked with potentially title-deciding decisions more often than they would have liked in recent weeks, with the Red Bull team often feeling hard done by. 

The Dutchman added that his opinion of Hamilton and Mercedes had changed this year and ‘not in a positive way’.

Verstappen has also made it clear ahead of the title decider that he believes he has been the victim of unfair treatment by the FIA this season. Bernie Ecclestone, former F1 boss and mogul, agreed with him by accusing Hamilton of bullying the Red Bull driver.

Speaking about his comments on Thursday, the Red Bull man said: “Well, clearly he feels something is not right.  I don’t experience bullying, but I think what is going on of course is not correct.

“At the end of the day, criticism that’s always there. But I think for myself, what is unfair is I’m just treated differently than other drivers. Clearly other drivers can get away with it and I can’t, and that’s a bit of a problem.”

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